Joseph Stanton’s “Straight-Man and Clown in the Picture Books of Arnold Lobel” analyzes Lobel’s emblematic characters in Harper and Row’s “I Can Read Series.” Stanton argues that Lobel tended to introduce his characters through three forms of personalities. Typically, Lobel included one character that was either reasonable, or highly emotional. Alternatively, he may have chosen two characters, each possessing the highly emotional or reasonable traits. For instance, in the Frog and Toad series, Frog is considered reasonable as he consistently comforts his highly emotional friend, Toad.
In addition to describing Lobel’s characters in Frog and Toad, Stanton explores personalities from other works such as, The Owl at Home and Grasshopper on the Road, which present only the reasonable type of characters as protagonists; through this method of storytelling, the foolish, or highly emotional character serves a minute role throughout the stories. Stanton contends, by reading Grasshopper on the Road from the reasonable character’s perspective, the reader “adopts Grasshopper’s view as [their] own and find [themselves] laughing at the human foibles.” In doing so, the reader, therefore, does not relate to the notions represented by the characters that Grasshopper meets along the way of his journey; this is unlike the take that readers would likely take when reading Lobel stories that pair both reasonable and foolish characters together. The same notion that readers can easily relate to the foolish characters is evident because children, or adult readers can look past the silly decisions and thoughts of characters and realize the logical thoughts that a reasonable character would suggest, if they existed in the story.
STANTON, J. “Straight-Man And Clown In The Picture Books Of Lobel,Arnold.” Journal Of American Culture 17.2 (n.d.): 75-84. Arts & Humanities Citation Index. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.
Frog and Toad. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2016. <http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/files/2012/06/FrogToadFriends3.gif>.